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Randy

Randyís Story Ė One Year Off

So here I am one year off Ativan. I'll try to not bore anyone with my whole story, so here are some of the "highlights". Keep in mind that this all started because I went to a highly recommended Psych doc because I had a moderate anxiety problem and some work related stress. I was completely functional and had a great life that was until I trusted a doctor who destroyed my life with benzodiazepine and a cocktail of other drugs that I have listed below.

The 19 drugs given to me, most of them within a 12 month period-

Anafranil
Ambien
Ativan
Buspar
Clonidine
Cymbalta- Did not take
Depakote- Refused to take
Halcion
Klonopin
Lexapro
Nortriptyline
Pexeva- which is like Paxil
Remeron
Rozerem
Seroquel- Refused to take
Trazodone
Valium
Wellbutrin
Xanax

I took Ativan for 10 months; I was taking 3mg's when I began tapering off the drug. At the same time, with my doctors supervision, I also c/t off of Buspar, which I had been taking for 7 months, and c/t off of Remeron, which I had been taking for 2 weeks. Within a week or two, I couldn't work anymore.

I did completely cross over to valium from the Ativan. When I got down to the last 5 mg of Valium about 8 weeks into my taper, my doc told me I could stop taking it completely and I did, because he said, and I quote, "five milligrams is nothing". What an incompetent moron!

Here is a summery of what the "professional psychiatric treatment" (Drugs) I received did for my moderate anxiety problem-

Physiological symptoms-in order of severity

Excruciating depression
Debilitating anxiety
Severe Agoraphobia
Depersonalization/Derealization
Confusion-Inability to comprehend the simplest things
Complete dysfunction- not showering or brushing teeth etc.
Psychotic symptoms- acting insane, thought I was going mad
Agitation- constant need to throw things, damaged ceilings/floors
Nightmares- waking in a horrific surreal state of mind
Screaming/obscenities- just ask the police who came to my house
Repeating words and responses to questions, ok, ok, ok, ok, okÖ
Emotional blunting-completely dead of any emotions, no feelings
Outbursts of rage and aggression - holes in the walls to prove it
Fear - Feelings of death and impending doom
Suicidal feelings - constantly begged God and wife to kill me
Intrusive thoughts - including many episodes of blasphemy
Obsessive thoughts - Thinking you have some awful disease
Loss of faith/joy - I loved to study theology.
Loss of memory Etc.

Physical symptoms- in order of severity

Severe insomnia- more than 8 months with virtually no sleep
Extreme fatigue/exhaustion
Joint aches and pains - constant for the last 6 months
Muscles - wasting, aches and pains
Extreme weakness - small objects felt extremely heavy
Urinary problems- had Cystoscopy, CT scan - nothing found
Bowel problems- had Colonoscopy - nothing found
Epididymis lumps/pain- 2 Ultrasounds and MRI- nothing found
Abdominal pain - lower left
Shoulder aches and pains
Rapid weight loss, about 75 lbs.
Face numbness, tingling - from anxiety
Hypersensitivity to being touched, sight, smell, and sound.
Heavy feeling on body, like someone was pushing me down
Edema - swelling in feet, ankles and legs
Lack of sebum from oil glands- dry fingers/hands and eyes
Skin problems - numbness, tingling, dry, burning
Dry mouth - excessive thirst
Tension headaches
Blurred vision, seeing spots, flashes, glassy eyes
Loss of taste, especially salt
Dental pain - teeth feel strange
Bradycardia (slow heartbeat/pulse)
Tinnitus-mild

Other interesting highlights

I spent 13 days going to a mental hospital as an outpatient, because my "expert" doctor with his 40 years of experience just couldn't understand why I was having so much trouble rapidly tapering off the benzo's. The doctor at the Psych hospital suggested I should get Electro Shock Therapy. I almost did it because I thought I needed it. God, where would I be now if I did that.

I lost my job in February after 6 months of disability. After that, I couldn't take the stress anymore so I went on an alcohol binge, then a sleeping pill binge, then a benzo binge and finally I went on a gambling binge which empted my savings account.

If that's not bad enough, during my alcohol binge, I fell down and smashed my face, which broke my nose. I think I had a concussion because I was extremely dizzy for several weeks after the fall, which is why I ran my truck into a ditch on the way to the casino. My truck was totaled and I bruised some ribs. Itís amazing I survived all of that, but here I am.

Ok, so how am I today?

I have made remarkable progress from the darkest days of this hellish nightmare for sure, even through I thought I never would. No one thinks I am crazy anymore. No more severe physiological symptoms or insomnia. I will never take sleep for granted again, or anything else for that matter.

I still have a lot of the issues that I listed above, but generally speaking, most of them have gotten much better. A few of the things that bother me the most now are -

Mild to moderate agoraphobia
Constant joint aches and pains - starting to improve
Increased Anxiety/stress - that's easy to understand
Mild depression - mostly discouragement/ feelings of hopelessness
Urinary problems
Edema- that comes and goes.
Lack of sebum /oil-fingers and hands waterlog almost instantly
Mild to moderate fatigue - little energy
Mild weakness
Overeating - gained back 85 lbs
Re-establishing my faith/joy - I miss that so much
Rebuilding my life - what a horrible mess! Deeply in debt.
Bitterness and anger
Etc.

I still haven't been able to return to work, still a bit dysfunctional, but I hope that will change soon. It's sad because I am not sure if I will be able to return to my old company of 21 years, because my job was very stressful and I don't know if I can handle that anymore. I don't know what I am going to do.

I just try to focus on one day at a time, it's just so easy to get overwhelmed with everything that's happened. It's hard not to look back at all I have lost, its so discouraging. This whole ordeal has left me very bitter, especially at the doctor who did this to me. I am trying to forgive, but that hasnít been an easy thing to do.

Thank you for listening, and thanks to the owners and moderators of this group. It has been a wonderful help in my recovery. I've learned a lot about benzodiazepine the hard way.

My favorite inspirational quote:

"Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." - Micah (Micah 7:8 )

My favorite ignorant Doc quote, after many months with no sleep-

"Benzodiazepine withdrawal doesn't cause insomnia, your not sleeping because your anxious"

My favorite benzo cartoon, only if you can laugh again:

http://www.benzo.org.uk/images/premorb.jpg

Randy - one year off Ativan

Randy -15.5 months of Ativan

Yes, at 15 months off I still have issues. But no, itís nothing close to the suffering I had before.

All of the severe psychological symptoms have completely gone away. I do still have increased anxiety, but nothing too horrible. Although my face still gets numb and tingly almost instantly at any stress, I don't have anything remotely close to panic attacks at all. (So much for the official diagnoses of Panic Disorder!)

I do find that I am much more sensitive than normal. It doesn't take too many pokes to get me very angry, very quickly. It's my personal version of the incredible hulk, only I am turning red, not green.

My poor wife and I hope that gets better real soon, as she has to walk on egg shells around me. I am a bit of a walking time bomb now a days. As in, nice guy, nice guy, nice guy, nice guy, BOOM!

Although to be honest, that scenario isn't exactly new for me, but there used to be a whole lot more nice guy ticks before the explosion.

My cognitive skills have retuned, but not 100%. I would say it varies between 70-90% depending on the day you ask me. As of right now, I feel my concentration is about 80% of what it used to be.

Overall my mind has healed quite dramatically compared to where I was maybe just 6 to 8 months ago, and when you consider that just 12 months ago I was very close to being committed 24/7, I am not complaining.

One of the biggest things I want to emphasize is that I now have ZERO depression, even with my life turned upside down, still NO depression at all. (So much for my official diagnoses of Major Depressive Disorder!)

I know I've said this several times before, but I just want everyone to see that the severe depression was from the drug, not just from my increasingly bad circumstances. I didn't recognize that at the time, and I doubt many others will either, at least while their so horribly depressed.

I am also still sleeping well, after enduring about 9 months of virtually no sleep, it went away in a snap. Also no more agoraphobia!

Basically as far as the overall mental picture goes, I act just about completely normal once again. And I now have an entirely new appreciation for just about everything in my life, which is why I try to enjoy every single day now, regardless of the mess I am still in. Thank you Jesus!

And as far as all the physical problems, most of them have remarkably improved as well, with a few exceptions. I still have urinary and bladder issues, and fading epididymis pain. (Thatís a guy thing).

I still have the same annoying problem with extremely dry fingers, which water log almost instantly, along with dry hands, eyes and skin.

I do have an ever "growing" (pun intended) issue with gaining far ,far, too much weight. I also still seem to have issues with water retention, and the swelling in my feet and ankles, which comes and goes.

But, I am very happy to say that the extreme joint pain and stiffness has greatly improved! Now it's confined mostly to my hips, but even that appears to be getting better.

Although I am still not very nimble, but now I think it's more from the additional weight, rather than my joints. Also, the extreme weakness and constant fatigue is pretty much history too.

But, even with all my remarkable progress, I am still not working yet. That is mainly because I don't know if I can handle the stress of my old job again. I may have to soon end up making half the money somewhere else that's not so stressful. Who knows, maybe that will be actually worth it?

However, I do feel that a good number of the things that would have normally stressed me out before this experience may now actually seem a bit trivial.

That's because I feel like I have earned a Masters Degree in life experience by surviving a crash course in "Hell on earth-101, via Benzodiazepine"

I think I earned a 4.0 GPA in suffering, but I am too afraid to inquire about it, maybe Satan can send me my grades from hell.

Randy-15.5 months of Ativan

 

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.

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Last updated 22 July 2015